Saturday, July 27, 2013
Royal News Roundup
On the continent, King Philippe of the Belgians is settling into his new position and has received pretty uniform praise for striking the right note upon taking the throne, emphasizing ‘unity in diversity’. These days, of course, no one likes to talk about tradition unless it is being broken and so there were a couple of breaks in tradition surrounding the inauguration of King Philippe. For one, for the first time since Belgium has existed, the royal swearing-in ceremony was followed by two anthems instead of one; the Belgian national anthem and the European Union anthem. Most talking heads in the media seemed to think this was great, showing how Belgium is committed to surging ahead on the whole united Europe idea (something yours truly is not so wild about), however they seemed rather less impressed with the other break with tradition by King Philippe who has decided not to announce a general amnesty for Belgian prisoners as has been done in times past. Not to sound contrary but that seems like the better break with tradition to me. Among the other crowned heads of Europe, HM King Willem-Alexander took his family on a short vacation this week, HM King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden met with some Boy Scouts and HM King Juan Carlos of Spain met with survivors of the horrific train wreck in northern Spain.
In other news we go to the Americas where HH Pope Francis made the first overseas visit of his reign when he traveled to Brazil for World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro where he was met with a hugely enthusiastic welcome. On his way, Pope Francis said he was most concerned about the poor young people and those without jobs. In his message to the gathered young people the Pontiff said, “What is it that I expect as a consequence of World Youth Day? I want a mess. We knew that in Rio there would be great disorder, but I want trouble in the dioceses!…I want to see the church get closer to the people. I want to get rid of clericalism, the mundane, this closing ourselves off within ourselves, in our parishes, schools or structures. Because these need to get out!” The Pope also caused a stir by not riding in a protected vehicle and by going off the planned course, away from the barricades and police security, to drive amongst the crowd. Problems surrounding the papal visit have caused some to express doubts about the ability of the country to handle the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. Local officials, however, say such problems are unavoidable with Youth Day and that these other events will be handled fine.